Weak County Assemblies are a travesty of political representation.
By Andy Munyoki
Every end month, a Member of County Assembly (MCA) in Kenya takes home a cool Ksh400,000/=
There are a total of 1450 elected MCAs in the country and a whooping 772 nominated MCAs bringing the total number of ward representatives in the country to an astonishing record high of 2,222.
Thus with one MCA taking home a cool Ksh400,000/= every month, the public coffers dispense a total sum of Ksh 888,800,000/= to pay the ward representatives monthly.
This figure translates to approximately Ksh11 Billion annually.
At the end of this five year term contract between politicians and the Kenyan publics in 2022, the taxpayer will have spent a whooping Ksh 660 Billion toward the payment of ward representatives.
How an MCA earns their money.
A member of county assembly is paid a Monthly salary of Ksh141,000/= . They are also paid a sitting allowance for attending committee sessions in the Assembly.
The sitting allowances are paid as follows: Ksh6,500/= for chairpersons, Ksh5,200/= for vice/chair and Ksh3,900/= for ordinary members.
There are a total of 8 committee sessions every week to attend thus a chairperson of a committee in a County Assembly makes a sum of Kshs 208,000/= (6,500 x 8 x 4) every month.
MCAs are also paid a car mileage for their travel every month.
In the Kitui County Assembly for instance, the nominated lot are paid at a flat rate of Ksh 39,000/= while their elected counterparts pocket an approximate figure of Ksh80,000/= every month.
Thus the above referenced chairperson of a committee in the Kitui County Assembly will pocket Ksh 429,000/= (141,000 + 208,000 + 80,000) monthly.
Is there a value for this money?
The roles of an MCA are varied as listed in the fourth schedule of the constitution and the County Government Act 2012 (Section 9). They include; County legislation, budget making, oversight over the county executive and representation of local voters.
Worth noting in section 9 of the Act is the cautionary clause warning a member of the county assembly not to directly or indirectly involve themselves in the executive functions of the county government and its administration or delivery of services as if the member were an officer or employee of a county government.
(Many MCAs have chosen to close their eyes to this caution)
That clause is intended to demand respect for the principle of separation of powers between the county assembly and executive and the need to have each arm stick to its functionary lane for the effective functioning of a county government.
Functionally, have the MCAs delivered in respect to their constitutional demands and public expectations?
In the Kitui County Assembly for instance, out of 54 ward reps (40 elected and 14 nominated) only a paltry six (6) MCAs have so far submitted a petition for debate in the house since August 2017 while only one (1) has submitted a private Member’s bill to the house since the county assembly entered its second phase.
One other MCA is said to be working on a private member’s bill for submission to the floor of the house sometimes next week.
Where are the other 46?
With only 6 active ward representatives in an assembly of 54, there is little hope in that house.
A weak county assembly will be a hindrance to the developmental expectations of the voters.
MCAs thus must do more as expected of them in the constitution to earn their title besides their flashy suits and high end cars which are a conspicuous proof of their arrogant affluence.